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Study On The Relative Clauses English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 5309 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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We use language to express our thoughts, plans, and our ideas which, most of the times are not simple. As a result, language that we use to convey those is also not simple. Very often, while communicating we want to express ourselves as clear as possible so we determinate what are we actually talking about. Relative Clauses enable the speaker to be more specific and add additional information about the referent, in writing they make writing more sophisticated. The topic of this paper is going to be, precisely that – Relative Clauses and it is going to be divided into three parts.

The first part of this paper, and the starting point of this work, is going to be focused on English Relative Clauses. Furthermore, their form and function in English language.

The second part of the paper is going to present all these elements (structure and function) of Relative Clauses in Albanian Language.

The third part of the paper will be focused on the comparing and contrasting Relative Clauses in English and Albanian. This is going to be realized by constantly extracting examples from the well known novel written by James Joyce, “Ulysses”, in English and the translated form of the same in Albanian by idler Azizi.

The last part of the paper will be recapitulation of all the previous mentioned elements and we will drown the conclusion based on the work and sentences given within the paper. The conclusion will finally provide us with the actual results upon the assumption that Relative clauses in English and Albanian should have certain elements in common and therefore contain, to certain extent, similarities. On the other hand this paper will also represent the differences that Relative clauses in both languages might have.

The purpose of this paper is to reflect upon the Relative Clauses which are used widely in everyday language. It is focused on Albanian and English language so the readers can, at least, by the examples used, have a clear picture of the issue.

Readers, whether they are students of English language or Albanian or even those that languages are not their field of study, are left to judge how helpful this paper will be to them. Hopefully, it is going to serve its purpose and at least, be a small guide into the wide scope of language.


In English Grammar books and other resources (electronic ones), that are the point of reference in this description, Relative Clauses are treated under the umbrella of Noun Modifiers, as a subordinate clause. We will firstly start from the definition of the Relative Clause as the starting point of our further analysis. Afterwards, after proving the definition through examples we are going to prove the correctness of the definitions and furthermore construct our own examples in order to insure that the form has been understood appropriately.

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The source grammar books of this paper are: English Grammar, Morphology written by Prof. Dr. Jashar Kabashi [1] , English Syntax by Prof. Dr. Vesel Nuhiu [2] , A Student’s Grammar of the English Language by Sidney Greenbaum and Randolph Quirk [3] , The Grammar Book by Marianne Celce-Murcia and Diane Larsen-Freeman [4] , English Grammar in Use written by: Raymond Murphy [5] , Headway, written by Liz and John Soars and A Comprehensive Handbook of English Grammar written by Prof. Dr. Shykrane Gërmizaj. [6] 

The electronic sources used for this paper is: Wikipedia (the electronic encyclopedia) [7] and

The analysis made by HUNTER COLLEGE published on their web page: rwc.hunter.cuny.edu [8] 

A relative clause (in some grammar books referred as *nominal relative clause) is a subordinate clause that modifies a noun phrase, most commonly a noun. For example: “the man who wasn’t there”

The phrase contains the noun man, which is modified by the relative clause who wasn’t there. [9] 

We can notice in the example above that the italic clause comes after the noun that it modifies so we can state that it is a noun post modifier. This is why some grammarians state that a Relative Clause is a type of complex postnominal adjectival modifier used in both written and spoken English. [10] 


San Antonio is a city that has experienced very rapid growth. [11] 

She is the teacher that I was talking you about yesterday.

It is the music that is famous in the world.

They are the boys that like studying.

As we can notice the words in bold are nouns and those italic are relative clauses that modify the nouns preceding.

*Greenbaum and Quirk, A student’s Grammar of the English Language

2.1 The Structure of Relative Clauses

      As mentioned above, Relative clauses are one kind of dependent clause, introduced by a relative pronoun that refers to the main noun the clause depends upon. A relative clause always immediately follows the noun it modifies. [12] 


I read the book that is on the first shelf.

Main clause Rel. clause

        A relative pronoun is usually the first word of a relative clause; however, in some cases the

pronoun follows a preposition: [13] 

The flight on which we wanted to travel was fully booked.

Additionally, when the relative pronoun is not the subject of the relative clause, it may be

omitted entirely (especially in spoken English):

I didn’t see the movie (that) you were mentioning last night.

When the pronoun is the subject, it cannot be omitted:

I fixed the car is very old.

Relative pronouns

Relative pronouns comprise two series:

Wh- element (including indefinite relative pronouns): who, whom, whose, which, what etc.

That and zero, the latter indicated below as ( ) [14] 

Adverbial pronouns: when, where, why, how

The noun to which a relative pronoun refers is called the ANTECENDENT. [15] 

A relative pronoun refers back to a noun in the preceding clause. [16] 

They differ based on antecedent, moreover whether the antecedent is personal or non-personal.

I know the person who was mentioned at the meeting.

I have heard the song that/ which you were singing yesterday.

The lady that is sitting over there is my mother.

In the example a) above we may noticed that the relative clause modifies the noun person and the pronoun used to indicate the Relative Clause is who whereas in b) example the relative

pronoun used is that or which and modifies the noun song. In c) example the relative pronoun that indicates the relative clause is that and it modifies the noun lady.

That is more usual than which. [17] 

! Remember that in Relative Clauses we use who/that/ which, not he/she/it: [18] 

I have never seen the girl who lives next door. (not the girl she lives)


The wh-element may be a pronoun, such as whoever and what, an adverb, such as where. [19] 

With who and whom the antecedent must be personal, with which it must be non-personal; with whose the antecedent is usually personal but can also be non-personal. [20] 

That is the school which I was talking you about.

That is the teacher who teaches us in the University.

That is the teacher (school) whose number I gave you.

The teacher whom I wanted to meet was on lunch time.

Indefinite relative pronouns

These are relative pronouns + the suffix ever:

Whoever: personal

Whatever: non-personal and personal

Whichever: non-personal and personal

*Whomever: is correct but most people say whoever [21] 

Take whatever measures you consider best.

Wherever you go, I will contact you.

Indefinite relative pronouns in ever have no antecedents in the sentence. They do not refer to the specific persons or things but to anyone/anything no matter who or what he/she/it or they may be. [22] 

Wh-element may express either SPECIFIC meaning (where the -ever suffix is disallowed) or a NONSPECIFIC meaning (generally indicated by the presence of the -ever suffix): [23] 


February is when the exams start in our University. (the exact month)


Whoever cheats in the exam will be asked to leave the class. (the person is not determinated)


That can be used without reference to the gender of the antecedent or the function within the relative clause, except that it cannot be preceded by a proposition. [24] 

You can also use that (instead of who), but you can’t use which for people. [25] 

The police officer that is my neighbour works here.

who is my neighbour works here.

which is my neighbour works here. (Incorrect usage)

Zero pronoun

Zero has a similar range as those pronouns mentioned above in 2.1.2 and 2.1.3, lacking only the subject function. [26] 

The actor ( ) I admired is new to London. [27] 

The play ( ) I was attracted to is new to London. [28] 

The food ( ) I eat is not very healthy.

Information ( ) I collected will serve our community.

2.1.5 Adverbial Pronouns

The relative pronouns are where, when, why and how

The town where I used to live is beautiful.

The year when I started my studies was 2007.

I don’t know the reason why they didn’t marry.

I don’t know a way how to get there.

They denote the place, time, reason and manner.

Indefinite relative adverbs

Whenever, wherever, however, begin clauses which refer to people or things or places, at any time, on any day; any place no matter where it is no matter how, without exception: [29] 

Whenever you have time, call me.

She comes, whenever she has time.

2.1.6 The category of case of relative pronouns (who, whom, whose)

Case is used to indicate the status of the relative pronoun and its clause. [30] 

Of the pronouns mentioned above in 2.1.2 the only relative pronouns that have the category of case are who which has subjective and whom objective case within the relative clause. [31] 

If the pronoun is in genitive relation to a noun head, the pronoun can have the form whose.

The man who we were looking for is my best friend.

The man whom we were looking is my best friend.

The woman whose daughter you met is Mrs. Brown.

(The woman is Mrs. Brown; you met her daughter.) [32] 

2.2 Types of Relative Causes

Relative Clauses can be divided into two groups: restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses [33] 

Restrictive Relative Clauses

A restrictive relative clause (or defining, or limiting) modifies the headword of a NP by restricting or limiting the meaning of it. Such a clause follows immediately the headword of a Noun Phrase and in writing is not separated by commas from the main clause. [34] 

In speaking, there is no pause before or after the defining relative clause. [35] 

Restrictive Relative Clauses are more common in spoken language. [36] 

For Example:

This is the girl who danced a lot at the party last night.

The people who protested were unsatisfied with the present condition.

He is the person that the police are looking for.

The juice that you just served is very cold.

Restrictive relative clauses are essential part in a sentence in order to convey the whole information. [37] Let us prove this by taking some of the sentences from the above written examples.

This is the girl.

The people were unsatisfied with the present condition.

He is the person. (Which person?)

As you can notice the meaning, information is vague.

Non-Restrictive Relative Clauses

The other type of Relative Clauses is called non-restrictive relative clauses. These clauses are not used as noun modifiers, since they do not modify a noun but only give some additional information about the headword which is already sufficiently modified or defined.

In writing such clauses are usually separated by commas from the rest of the sentence. [38] In speaking there are pauses before and after a non-defining relative clause. [39] 

My sister (pause), who is a first year student, (pause) is a very hard working person.

Non-restrictive (or non/defining) clauses add secondary information to a sentence, almost as an afterthought. [40] 

For Example:

My sister, who is a first year student, is a very hard working person.

The Shakespeare’s play, that is known worldwide, is going to be performed in The National Theatre.

The strange noise, which was coming from the first flour, has scared the child.

The climbers, who reached the summit, were exhausted.

As we can notice from the above given examples the non-restrictive relative clause can be left out and the sentence that remains is meaningful even without it. Let us prove this by implying it in the following example.

My sister is a very hard working person.

The Shakespeare’s play is going to be performed in The National Theater.

These types of relative clauses, non-restrictive, are more common in written language. [41] 

The Function of Relative Clauses

The Relative clauses can perform various functions in a complex sentence.

Relative Clauses as subject

Relative Clause can perform the function of the subject in a complex sentence. [42] 

That they will win is known for sure.

That she is beautiful doesn’t mean so much to me.

Who proves too much proves nothing

What I want to know is the truth.

If we analyse the sentences above a) and b) we can notice that the entire Relative clause in italic we can replace with the pronoun it.

It is known for sure.

As we can notice the pronoun it (which we used to replace the relative clause) precedes the predicate and it answers to questions what? Those are the characteristics of the subject. Here bellow we will use yet another example in order to clarify the function of subject of the Relative Clause.

That the film is interesting is obvious. (What is obvious?)

Relative clauses – Extraposed Subject

The finite (that) clause may perform the function of Extraposed subject. [43] 

It is a fact that Madonna is famous.

It’s a good idea that he initiated such an issue. [44] 

Relative clauses as Direct Object

Relative Clauses used in the function of an object in complex sentences usually have subjects that are human beings. They introduce mainly reported speech, such as:

He said that he was proud with his company.

He mentioned that economic problems are destroying his otherwise successful company.

They emphasized that the homework has to be done by tomorrow.

Relative clauses as Subject complement

Relative Clause can perform the function of Subject complement within a complex sentence. [45] 

It seems that she is nervous.

What annoyed me was that she didn’t pay the attention.

That is where I want to go [46] 

April is when lilacs bloom.


In Albanian, similar to English, Relative clauses determinate noun phrases (NP) and they are called fjalia e përbërë me pjesë të nënrenditura përcaktore. [47] 

The NP that Relative modifies is called paraprijës. [48] 

3.1 The structure of Relative Clauses in Albanian

In Albanian language, similar to English, Relative Clause is introduced by relative pronouns and relative adverbs. [49] 

3.1.1 Relative pronouns in Albanian Language

Words like që and i cili, e cila, të cilët etc. function as relative pronouns (Alb. përemër lidhor). [50] Relative pronouns can be defining and non-defining, those written in bold above are defining, while some of the non-defining are: kush, ndokush, kudo, kurdo. [51] Relative Clauses in Albanian can also be preceded by relative adverbials (Alb.ndajfolje lidhore) [52] : Ku, kur etc.

They are always placed before the relative clause, which introduces the same. However in the case when the relative clause i cili is used in the possessive (genitive) case, because of its adequate function it is preceded by a noun. [53] 

3.1.2 Albanian Relative pronoun që

Relative pronoun që in Albanian Language doesn’t change its form. This is because the lack of gender, number and case. [54] 

E vërteta është, që ai nuk deshi të vije në mbledhje.

Shqipiptar i vërtetë është ai, që nuk e ndan veprën nga fjala.

Dëgjohet vetëm klithma që vinte nga rruga e errët.

Puna e mbarë është ajo, që punohet me nder.

As we can notice we use the relative pronoun që regardless of the gender, number or case.

3.1.3 Albanian Relative pronoun i cili

Functionally the relative pronoun in Albanian i cili corresponds to the relative pronoun in 3.3.1 (që) but it also has certain characteristics on his own. The pronoun has the separated forms for gender, number and case. It can take the shortened form of the pronouns and by this it doesn’t only have the semantic relation with the antecedent but it is also related by syntax to it. We can state that it has double connection with the antecedent. It is in the same case as the subordinate clause within the sentence. [55] 

For example:

Ai e vështronte qiellin i cili është nxire i tëri.

Kosova ka arritur progrese të mëdha gjatë mandatit tuaj, për të cilat ju dhe shteti juaj duhet të krenoheni.

Këngetarja e famshme botërore, e cila theu të gjitha rekordet botërore, tani vuan nga një sëmundje e rëndë.

Autori shqiptar, i cili për një kohë të caktuar qëndroi në SHBA mblodhi shumë adhurues mërgimtar.

3.1.4 Relative adverbs

Similar to English, Albanian language also uses relative adverbs to introduce relative clause .The adverb that show place is ku, whether nga is used to show direction. Except these relative pronouns, in Albanian, we also use locution nga ku (from where) to express starting point but also për ku to show the direction of the action, gjer ku that expresses the lasting point of the action. All these adverbs relate subordinate clause with the antecedent and they mark the place. [56] Other relative adverbs are kur, si and përse which are used to show time, manner and reason.

Vetura u ndal, nga doli një infermier.

Ai ka shkuar në vedin ku ishte rritur.

Ajo nuk e tha arsyen përse deshironte të largohej.

3.2 Types of Relative Clauses in Albanian Language

Similar to English Language, there are two types of Relative Clauses in Albanian Language: Restrictive and Non-Restrictive. (Alb. Përcatore-kufizuese and përcatore shtuese) [57] 

3.2.1 Restrictive Relative Clauses in Albanian Language

In Albanian these clause are called përcaktore-kufizuese. They cannot be removed or left out because the primary meaning would be vague or it would be changed. [58] 

Më pëlqejnë shumë njërëzit që punojnë sistematikisht.

Me pëlqejnë shumë njërëzit.

If we compare these two sentences we can notice that in a) the speaker likes just the people that work systematically and in b), when we remove the relative clause the meaning is totally different, conveying that I like people, meaning all people.

3.2.2 Non-restrictive Relative Clauses in Albanian Language

In Albanian these clauses are called përcaktore-shtuese. They add or explain something and we can remove them without destroying the grammatical structure of the sentence. [59] 

Shpallja e Pavarsisë, qe ishte ditë e madhe për Shqipëtaret, do të mbahet në mend.

Bjeshkët e Rugovës, që ndodhen në Qytetin e Pejes, janë te bukura.

In speaking, these relative clauses in Albanian, similar to English have a pause before and after it. They serve to add additional information to the main clause. [60] 

As we can notice from the examples in a) and b) the non-restrictive clauses in writing are separated by commas, similar to English non-restrictive Relative Clauses.

3.3 The order of Relative Clauses within the sentence in Albanian

The position of relative clause in the sentence is determinated by the position of its antecedent. [61] 

3.3.1 The Relative Clause at the end of the Sentence

When the antecedent of the relative clause is at the end of the sentence the relative clause comes after it. [62] 

Nuk ishte i rastit vendimi që aj të largohet.

Na kishte gëzuar lajmi që ajo do të kthehet.

3.3.2 The Relative Clause at the beginning and in the middle of the Sentence

When the antecedent (Alb. Paraprijësi) is at the beginning or in the middle of the main clause the subordinate relative clause is placed in the middle of it. [63] 

Vajza, që i mbate lulet në dorë, qante nga gezimi i madh.

Kënga e bukur, qe aty këndohet, ka melodi të veqantë.

3.4 Function of Relative clauses in Albanian

Relative Clauses in Albanian can have different functions within the sentence.

In sections below there are the examples that were compiled to prove and illustrate the function.

3.4.1 Relative Clause as Subject

Relative Clauses can function as a subject of the main clause, here are but a few examples:

Bisedimet që ishin të gjata dhe të lodhshme përfunduan me sukses.

Premtimet e juaja, që ishin shpresëdhënëse, nuk u përmbushen.

3.4.2 Relative Clauses as Subject Complement

Ata konisedorojnë që fjalët e saja janë trillim.

3.4.3 Relative Clause as Direct object

Ata kishin degjuar që unë do të bëhem kryetar.

Ata e kishin shkruar që kjo është e vërtetë.

3.4.4 Indirect Object

I dhash të gjitha atyre që kanë pasur nevojë.

3.4.5 Adjunct

Aj vraponte aty ku askush nuk mund ta gjejë.

Sara e degjoj at lajmë kur nuk ishte koha.


In this section a direct contrastive analysis of Relative Clauses in English and Albanian Language will be made. Examples of Relative Clauses will be extracted from the novel written by James Joyce [64] and will be contrasted with the Relative Clauses from the same novel translated by Idlir Azizi [65] . Examples will be marked by number and a small letter denoting the language English (e) or Albanian (a).

This part is going to be focused on the structure of the relative clauses, furthermore on pronouns mentioned throughout the entire paper. Since it has been noticed that the difference

between the relative Clauses in English and the same in Albanian is particularly that- the usage of some of the relative pronouns within the relative clause.

4.1 Relative Clauses preceded by the relative pronoun and its equivalent in Albanian

In this section the examples of the relative clauses preceded by the relative pronoun wh-pronouns (who, which, what etc.) are going to be extracted from the same novel, of course from its English and Albanian translated form.

1e) By a woman who was no better than she should be. (p. 40)

1a) Nga një grua jo e mire që s’mund të ishte ndryshe. (p. 34)

2e) A merchant, Stephen said is one who buys cheap and sells dear, jew or gentile is he not? (p.41)

2a) Tregtari, tha Stiveni, është ai që blen lirë të shesë shtrenjtë, a s’është kështu? (p. 35)

3e) But the courtiers who mocked Guido in Or san Michele were in their own house.(p.57)

3a) Por kurtizanët që thumbonin Guidon në Or shën Mikelë ishin në shtëpitë e tyre. (p. 47)



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